The superb “Free” opens up Goin’ Country, the album from Feed the Kitty, a trio that performs pop/country with style, a modern-day Orleans / Firefall / J.D. Souther with an up-tempo, happy-go-lucky spring in its step. Generating their sounds from Southern California the FTK bio notes: “Originally from Tucson AZ, band members Jed Mottley (Bass) and Jon Shumway (Drums) moved to Los Angeles and hooked up with Jack Maher (Guitar/Vocals) in 2004.” Eleven years later the 2015 Goin’ Country CD has many hooks and surprises that delight. There’s a dozen tracks and we’ll shuffle in this review to give a glimpse of this hard-working group’s powerful release.
“Wonder,” track 7, is one of my favorites, Maher’s voice is terrific here and in full control. The story unfolds with stellar playing, in a short burst of pop at 2:39 and as perfect for top 40 as opening track “Free, Both songs are more pop than country – pure pop actually giving this trio a solid footing in both genres. “Sleepless Nights” proves that by dipping right into good old c & w from back in the day. What is delivered here is the country that should be played on contemporary radio, crystal clear production with soulful playing and vocals.
I prefer the band when it is straightforward and churning out radio friendly tunes with a smile. However they are reaching out to many and “Orange Country Sky” – like DNA before it – goes into Mick Jagger bad-boy territory with tongue-in-cheek humor along with in-your-face drug references. But that’s the new country side, isn’t it, and the lyrics can all be re-designed if they catapult from the clubs and bars to theaters and stadiums where this group deserves to be. “Orange Country Sky” is a great tune with wonderful playing…it’s just going from clean-cut to the depths of depravity that gets a little jarring.
So much to absorb when Feed the Kitty delivers twelve tracks on this serving, with some titles very special, a case in point being the pause and reflect “Deep Down” with it’s The Band-inspired instrumentation, not as thick as Levon Helm’s ensemble, but the message, spirit and playing is there. Track 6, “Restless Dogs” also comes in less than three minutes, and picking up where The Byrds and even Simon and Garfunkel may have left their audiences off. You’ve felt these flavors before and the influences are many, however Feed the Kitty deliver the message and the sounds and have oh so much brio and strength. A refreshing and professional work with much commercial potential.
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.